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Erythromelalgia (EM) Treatment

471px-ErythromelalgiaErythromelalgia (EM) is the term used to describe a combination of symptoms including an intense, burning pain, swelling and severe redness of arms and/or hands (upper extremities) and legs and/or feet (lower extremities). A recent research in the USA found that the number of people diagnosed with this condition was 1.3 for every 100,000. Women victims were more in number (2 for every 100,000 per year) than men (0.6 for every 100,000 per year). It is considered a rare condition due to its low incidence.

Erythromelalgia (EM) Treatment:

Individuals suffering from this disorder are generally advised to opt for a ‘trial and error’ treatment strategy after having a thorough discussion with their family physician. This is due to the lack of a specific treatment option. Also, not all affected people react in a similar way to a certain treatment. Some may be highly sensitive to medications. The treatment options available are listed below.

  • Elevating (lifting up) and cooling the affected body parts could relieve the pain to an extent. Although cooling is an easy option, frequent cold water immersions may cause reactive flaring leading to the formation of non-healing ulcers, gangrene, infection, maceration of the skin and finally amputation of the affected body part.
  • Conventional over the counter pain relievers and stronger prescription drugs relieve the pain in majority of the affected people. Different people react differently to the pain medications. One drug which is effective in alleviating the symptoms in a person could prove to be not very effective in others.
  • Antidepressant drug Effexor could work wonders for some people.
  • Lyrica and Neurontin are the anticonvulsant medications that are effective in some people in reducing the symptoms.
  • Capsaicin cream, a topical cream has been reported to be effective in some cases.
  • Intravenous injection of lignocaine (lidocaine) and nitroprusside.
  • Surgical sympathectomy is a procedure in which the nerve fibers of sympathetic nervous system are cut selectively.

Rarity of disease, varying reasons and factors of occurrence make it difficult to opt for a single treatment. Understanding the disease and trying out different options before finding the best option is another alternative to reduce the symptoms associated with Erythromelalgia (EM).

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